Chapter 5 : I swear reporters are the worst people on the planet.
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Why the fuck would I agree to something like this? Did he slip something into my drink, did he confuzzle my brain power with some kind of fancy-arse spell that nobody else knows about? Or did my weak will just give into the (freaking golden) idea of getting a new flat?
With a peephole. Just saying.
But a world filled with peepholed doors suddenly seems a lot less appealing when you are flooing to your certain doom. Well, maybe it’s not your certain doom, but it is going to be one fuck of a disaster. There are going to be reporters there.
Members of the public. People I haven’t met before and are therefore not accustomed to my snark, moodiness and general tendency to snap people’s heads off. I can’t kick Potter under the table without fifty cameras going off in my face and it being splashed across the newspapers.
My brother is going to read this.
I am going to be dead meat on a platter.
“Right, Woods,” Potter snapped, anxiously dragging his hand through his hair and tapping his foot on the murky hearth of the Leaky Cauldron, “my family are going to be reading about this tomorrow morning, so make me look good.”
Yeah, if you wanted to look good then I was not the best choice. You might as well get back with that psycho ex of yours if you want someone who is actually going to act like a nice, respectable, normal person in front of a load of bullshitting reporters.
Honestly, I fucking hate reporters. Their mission in life is to make other people look like shit so they can go back to their tiny apartments with a crummy paycheck and write more lies about people that have never done anything to them.
I don’t blame Potter for wanting to get them off his arse – which is odd, because I’d love to blame Potter for something.
But right now I’m just going to blame him for being a grade A prick to people he doesn’t know.
“I’d like to point out that my family is going to read this as well.” I hissed through my teeth, but Potter just rolled his eyes and ran his hand over his jaw, which was in good need of a shave.
“Yeah, but they already know what a hopeless bitch you are.” He muttered. I swelled in anger, a red haze clouding my eyes as I stared at this sorry excuse for a man that I had come to hate so quickly. And yeah, I hate a large portion of the people in the world – with good reason, people are shitheads – but this guy really pushes my fucking buttons.
I would just love for him to take a long stroll off a short pier, and plunge straight to his death in Titanic temperature waters.
Not that I’m sadistic, or anything.
I mean seriously, I’ve been putting up with arseholes and shit for my entire life, but it’s never bothered me – being raised where I was, people never expected you to amount to much. Mark and I are two of the few children on our estate that actually finished school. But to have someone stand there and be so blatantly dismissive and rude about me to my face – it’s not on. And I won’t stand there and take it.
I’d smash his face in before I did that.
“I fucking hate you.” I grumbled as he grabbed me by the arm and turned me to face the dusty mirror atop the fireplace.
“Well, whilst you’re standing there hating me, do yourself a favour and fix that mess on the top of your head. These people are going to have cameras – and no one will believe you’re dating someone like me if you don’t look at least semi-decent.” I gaped at him indignantly for a moment, too shocked to actually form words, before he sighed and grabbed my hands, dropping them on top of my head.
“You – you are the most up himself arsehole I have ever met, do you know that?” I snarled, pulling gingerly at a couple of knots. Sorry if my hair doesn’t lie perfectly after flooing halfway across London and strolling up and down Diagon Alley for hours.
Potter looked like he couldn’t care less, his eyebrows quirked coolly and his jaw set in mild irritation – apparently, I was taking too long.
“Right, before we get there you’re going to have to know a few things.” Potter sighed, dropping onto an old chair next to the fireplace. I smirked as clouds of dust erupted from the ancient cushions, his weight too much for the chair that clearly hadn’t been used in decades.
Seriously, would it kill them to run a duster over this place? Possibly a vacuum?
If someone with asthma stepped in here then it would be game over for them – even the glasses are filthy, and people use them every bloody day. How is that even possible?
“The reporters are going to try everything they can to make you seem like a twat – chances are, they’ll be nice to your face. But trust me, they will take anything you say and tear it apart; they want to make you look bad because it makes a better story. You have to be so careful what you say. You can’t be sexist, racist, ageist – anything like that. You can’t be sarcastic – I know that’s going to fucking kill you – because they won’t take it as a joke – they’ll take what you say and make it sound like you’re being serious, and then you’re done for.”
My breathing was shallow and my eyes had widened, and I stared at the mirror much harder than necessary to avoid glancing at Potter and letting him see the panic that I was sure was now running rampant in my eyes.
Shit. Shitty shit shitballs. I am not cut out for this kind of thing.
I’m sarcastic and moody and don’t think before I speak, so if my snark is going to be taken seriously then I am pretty much the dictionary definition of screwed. I can’t deal with this kind of thing. I’ll just have to tell Potter that the deal is off – I don’t need a new apartment that badly, right?
“I’m not doing this.” I said quietly, pulling my fingers out of the tangle I was trying to pry apart and staring at Potter coldly. It wasn’t fair for him to ask me to do this.
Potter cocked an eyebrow, dragged one of his hands through his tousled brown hair and stared me down. The deep brown colour that should have been warm and comforting seemed cold; his mouth was set into what looked like a sneer and his overall expression looked amused.
Why the fuck does he look amused? I can’t find anything amusing about being forced into a room full of rabid reporters that want to tear you apart for no reason other than their evident lack of morals.
“I was wondering how long it would take for you to try and pull out of this.” He said calmly, his tone suggesting that we were discussing nothing more interesting than the day’s weather. “Congratulations, Woods, you managed to last an entire twenty,” he glanced mockingly at the three-hundred-galleon watch on his arm, “two minutes before it all got too much for your cowardly Hufflepuff arse.”
I swelled in anger, but Potter didn’t seem to be done mocking me yet.
“And as much as I would love to show you the door and let you off on your merry way, I can’t. So finish fixing that bloody bird’s nest and we’ll be on our way; we’re due in five minutes.” Potter leant his head back onto the headrest and closed his eyes, a victorious smirk twitching his lips.
I gaped at him in horror for a moment, before clamping my lips shut and wheeling back to the mirror. I can do this. I will prove to the little arse that I can do this.
Woo an entire room’s worth of reporters, look cool and dateable whilst doing so and somehow manage to look good in the papers the next day – child’s play.
Bring it on, Potter.
“You couldn’t have worn something else, could you?” Potter grumbled as we walked along yet another corridor, the white linoleum squeaking under my shoes, and the uniform strips of light across the ceiling burning neon purple lines onto the backs of my eyelids.
“Well, if you had gotten off your arse and written that in the letter then maybe I would have shown up in something mildly appropriate for a fucking press conference.” I hissed back, glancing edgily over my shoulder at the giant boulder of a man that was following us for ‘security’.
He was about six and a half feet tall, twenty-odd stone of solid muscle and wearing a suit of such deep ebony that he wouldn’t have looked out of place at a funeral. But to set off his giant bald head (which looked rather amusing when the fluorescent lights bounced right off it), he was the proud owner of the smallest pair of eyes I had ever seen.
Seriously, they were like pinpricks. How he can even see where he is going is beyond me.
His seemingly eternal vow of silence and tensed stature seemed to alarm even Potter, who kept glancing over his shoulder in irritation at the Boulder.
The Boulder didn’t seem to care.
I bet he’s thinking about his plans for this evening, instead of keeping a wary eye out for people who could possibly jump out of the shadows and attack Potter and myself (did I mention that there is no one here?). Yes, he is probably planning his schedule for all the puppy-strangling and children’s-soul-sucking that he has to do later.
We reached the end of the ridiculously long corridor after what seemed like an age, and Potter stopped outside of a large wooden door adorned with a small golden plaque – CONFRENCE ROOM.
“Well, at least they let us take the short cut this time,” Potter muttered, running a hand through his hair, “normally they make me take the long way.”
You have to be kidding me.
“Let’s get this shit over with.” I sighed, pushing Potter in the chest – side note: that bloke’s muscles have muscles... how is that even possible? – and giving the door a swift kick so it opened.
Yeah, the door may have looked like it was made of heavy wood, but it really wasn’t. The door nearly flew off its hinges, slammed into the wall behind it, attracting the attention of the entire room, the occupants of which whipped around to stare at me. Cameras had already begun to flash. I grabbed the door handle and quickly pulled the door shut again, leaning my back against it and sliding down to the floor.
I am not cut out for this kind of thing. There is a reason I’m in Hufflepuff – I don’t do well under stress or pressure, and I am about as brave as a pygmy puff.
Potter’s initially amused expression had subsided and was now annoyed – his jaw clenched and his eyes flashing at me, still that cold shade of brown from before. His eyes would be bloody gorgeous if he bothered to inject any life into them.
“Open the fucking door, you wuss.” Potter grumbled, nudging the side of my leg with the toe of his shoe. I didn’t move a muscle.
Potter, hissing expletives under his breath the whole time, leaned down, grabbed me by the tops of the arms and hauled me to my feet, and I – being the co-ordinated genius that I am – stumbled sideways and cracked my head on the doorframe.
I clutched at my temples as pain shot through my head, pulsing from one spot on the back of my skull. Potter swam in and out of my cloudy vision, his eyes a little wary but otherwise looking unconcerned about the fact I nearly just knocked myself out.
Yeah, don’t worry about me. You’re the one that would have to carry me to hospital, arse.
The Boulder stepped forwards and held a hand out for Potter, silently indicating for him to get out of the way. I don’t think this bloke owns vocal chords, you know. Maybe that was in the description.
Security Guard at Millennium Conference House – must be crane-your-neck tall, weigh around the same as an adolescent elephant and must not cherish a desire to ever speak – mutes given priority. A CV must be provided at every interview.
I can just see that being printed in Witch Weekly - or the Quidditch Post, which has become less of a Quidditch magazine over the years and more of another gossip rag – right alongside the miniature articles from people trying to flog slightly used Prada pumps, a giant advertisement for the Celestina Warbeck: Fitness For Life DVD and a notice from another Hogwarts graduate about the desperate roommate search they are currently involved in – smokers need not apply.
That was the reason I moved in where I did – a shitty apartment on my own – instead of semi-decent one with a roommate. So what, because I smoked the occasional cigarette I was impossible to bunk with? I’d have gone outside if I had to.
Kicked the habit six months ago – but that doesn’t matter to mother dearest. She still takes every convenience to tell me that her life was almost taken away from her when she got sick, and there I was, frittering my life (and money) away on a box of cancer sticks, for no reason other than my seeming inability to quit.
There is a reason it’s called an addiction, Mummy. They don’t just call it that for kicks and giggles.
But the Boulder didn’t seem to care that he was interrupting my internal rant about my mother issues, because he placed a sausage sized finger on each of my temples and pulled my head up to look at him.
But he still did not speak.
Maybe he actually is a boulder and they just transfigured him to look like a human – which is why he can’t talk. Mind you, if they were going to transfigure a boulder then you would think that they would just go the whole hog and give it a voice as well.
But no, apparently not.
“Miss Woods, do you need to sit down?” My gob (very attractively, I might add) fell so far open that the Boulder most likely got a lovely flash of my uvula. Is he speaking? Well, way to go and crush my fragile dreams of hoping that you were a transfigured boulder.
Honestly, the audacity of some people.
“No, she doesn’t need to sit down. What she needs to do is get her arse into that room and answer questions nicely and make me look good.” Potter chipped in, his voice gruff with irritation. The Boulder blinked, his tiny eyes widening until they were about the size of a five pence.
Seizing the door handle again, Potter grabbed me by the back of the shirt and steered me into the room of vultures, standing directly behind me, as though he already knew of my plan to wheel around and sprint out of the room.
Fuck, if this bloke is a mind reader as well then I am double screwed.
That would just be the icing on the fucking cake, wouldn’t it? Gorgeous (I mean, I don’t think he’s gorgeous, but some people might think that...), tall, muscular, cold, rude, arrogant, and – oh yeah – my fake boyfriend... and a fucking mind reader.
How fucking excellent.
Potter steered me to a desk on a raised platform, overlooking the orderly rows of women dressed in tight blouses and pencil skirts and blokes in suits so skinny they might as well have been sprayed on, most of which seemed to be wearing glasses with frames to large for their faces.
Is that the thing for reporters now? To wear ginormous glasses? Is it supposed to put people at ease, or intimidate people, or something?
I mean, I’m sure that in a room filled with this many people, not ninety percent of them need to wear glasses. And some of them would get contacts, surely! I wear contacts, it’s not that difficult. You just head on down to the opticians and get some.
Am I seriously rambling about glasses in my head? Fuck, this is Potter’s fault. Him and his stupid press conference and stupid shittiness.
God, I fucking hate him.
“Park your arse down and don’t fucking swear.” Potter hissed in my ear.
Oh, the irony.
I blinked out into the crowd of people and waited for the first question to come. Would they be nice about it? Would they all shout at once? Would anyone be outright rude? Did I have to answer everything? What happens if I do swear, am I going to get into trouble? Shit, I should have asked about this stuff.
“Miss Woods, is it true that you are currently looking for work?” The question came from a blonde woman in the front row, whose platinum hair was curled into a perfectly shaped bob, not a hair out of place, and was wearing a black pinstriped jacket with her blouse-and-pencil-skirt ensemble.
“Uhm... yeah.” I muttered, and I heard Potter heave an almost silent sigh next to me. Grabbing the Magical Microphone in front of me, he pulled it until it was only a few inches from my mouth and offered the crowd a plastic grin.
I’m pretty sure one woman fainted. Now that is sad.
“I mean, yes. I was recently made redundant.” I said, a little louder this time.
There was a wave of frantic scribbling, and a few more camera flashes went off. I bit my lip. Cameras flashed again. I let my lip go, thanking every deity that I don’t believe in that I don’t blush easily.
“Miss Woods, how long have you and James Potter been dating?” Fuck. Fuck, fuck, fucking fuck. Wouldn’t it have been smart to sort out these details before we sat down in front of a room full of people who have already decided they hate me? Hmm? Did you think about that, Potter?
No, of course not.
He said he broke up with his ex girlfriend, Beth, or whatever her name was, a couple of months ago... and this relationship can’t be too serious, I don’t want to be in it for very long...
“A month, give or take a couple of days.” I said calmly, and Potter clenched fist loosened slightly on the desk. Huh. Well, apparently, I had done something right.
“Miss Woods, can you just confirm that you are in fact twenty years old?”
“Yeah, I’m twenty.”
“So you were in the year below James Potter in school?”
“Yes, I was.”
“So did you have one of those teenage-girl-crushing-on-famous-older-guy crushes on James Potter when you were at school?”
Shit. Seriously, am I just supposed to come up with an entire history for us on the spot here? Feel free to chip in any time, Potter. And don’t pretend that you don’t know that I want you to talk, because I know you can read minds, so don’t pull shit with me.
Potter twitched his hand on the desk slightly, so I discreetly glanced over at his tensed jaw in time to see him nod his head up and down, absolutely minutely. Great. So now I’m going to be the insane fangirl. I thought he wanted me to look good?
Oh wait, no. He wanted him to look good. Silly me.
“I always admired Po- James for his Quidditch skills and, ahem, good looks,” I began awkwardly, cursing creatively in my head the whole time, “but I wouldn’t say I had one of those crushes on him. I just thought he was a very... special bloke.”
I had only just finished my sentence when a foot crushed down on my own, and I pinched my lips together to stop myself from swearing loudly. Apparently Potter didn’t like the fact I hadn’t done as I was told.
Well, suck it, Potter. You picked the wrong girl to fuck with.
“Miss Woods, have you met the Potter family yet?”
“No, not yet – I believe I’m meeting them soon, though.” I hope the reporters didn’t notice the fact I nearly vomited after saying that. Potter fucking well better have been joking when he said that I had to meet his family.
They’re going to know we’re not dating – I don’t know jackshit about him.
“Miss Woods, what Quidditch team do you support?” Another voice called out.
“I’m not really into Quidditch, but my family has been raised to be huge supporters of Puddlemere United.” There was a quiet gasp from a few of the reporters and the sound of scribbling quills grew louder as all those who had being lying dormant began to scribble frantically.
Potter hissed through his teeth and his eye winced up in a slight grimace. What did I say? What’s so wrong with saying that my family are huge supporters of Puddlemere United? My dad practically salivates on the pages whenever the Quidditch Post is giving away Puddlemere season tickets.
“Miss Woods, what career are you considering pursuing now you are out of work?”
“I’m not sure, at the moment. I may just look for some secretarial work.”
“Miss Woods, is it true that you were offered a place at Healing School and ended up turning it down?”
Fucking hell, where do they find these things out? I don’t exactly spread my life story around, so I have no idea how these reporters somehow managed to get a hold of it.
“Yes, that is true.” I muttered through my teeth, and Potter kicked me in the ankle.
Is he allowed to do that? Doesn’t that class as domestic abuse or something? Assault, maybe. I’d go to the police and find out if I wasn’t afraid of being nationally hated for being the reason that James ‘Oh my gawd, he’s so fit!’ Potter got sent to muggle prison. But he would deserve it.
Fucking git. And his fucking fangirls aren’t much better.
“Why did you turn down your place at Healing School?” Asked a blonde woman in the front row, and I couldn’t help but notice that she was the only person who hadn’t used the nicey-nice pretence of calling me ‘Miss Woods’.
“My mum got sick, and I dropped out school so I could look after her.” I said dully, scratching the back of my neck uncomfortably – I didn’t like where the conversation had headed. That was private to my family – but if you don’t tell them, then they assume you have something to hide.
It’s a bucket load of shit, I’ll tell you that now.
The blonde woman raised one heavily pencilled eyebrow and lifted her free hand off her crocodile skin handbag, bringing it to her mouth so he could stick one of her painted talons in her mouth.
“And why didn’t you just hire some domestic help to nurse her, or a house elf?” She asked, her eyes glinting hungrily. I didn’t understand what she was getting at, but that didn’t stop me being a bit hesitant with my answer.
I’m not ashamed of my upbringing, but people like this are going to assume that because I’m from a council estate and my family has next to no money, that I’m just into Potter for what he has in the bank.
“Because we couldn’t afford it.” I mumbled into the magical microphone, awkwardly tugging on the end of a long curl. The blonde woman’s face twisted up into a smirk, her bright!white teeth shining out against her deep crimson lipstick.
“You couldn’t afford it – you grew up on a council estate, am I correct?” I felt a few more eyes lift from the parchment and latch onto my face.
“Yes, that’s correct.”
The blonde bitch finally seemed satisfied, as she pulled an acid green quill out of her bag – which was so big it could probably have knocked down a wall if I had cared to get off my arse and test it – and began to scribble onto some ridiculously expensive looking parchment.
Who wants to waste money on parchment?
Fucking hell, my dad just nicks the shit from the office he works at, and it’s so fucking thin you could practically spit through it.
“Do you mind me asking,” I said suddenly, tugging on the stem of the magical microphone and speaking breathlessly into the receiver, “what magazine do you work for?”
I need to be prepared for whatever tabloid is going to be spitting vicious shit out about me tomorrow, if the look on her face is anything to go by. She looked spiteful; the smirk on her face clearly perfected with years of ruining people’s lives. She looked vaguely familiar, though I couldn’t place her face – her platinum blonde hair was quite clearly not natural, and judging by the fact she looked like she was in her early fifties, I’m guessing it was to cover up the grey.
Potter glanced at me sideways, frustration at my press-conference-virginity causing him to clench his tan hands into even tighter fists and gnaw away at the pink of his lips with his teeth.
Yeah, I do understand that they're supposed to ask me questions. But there is no law that says it can’t go the other way around.
“My name is Rita Skeeter, pet.” She said, smirking up at me with a bitchy little glint in her eye. “And I work for the Daily Prophet.”
Potter exhaled sharply through his nose.
The Daily Prophet? Well fuck.
disclaimer: none of this belongs to me, and i own nothing you recognise.
sorry for the wait! i've been on a being summer updating kick lately, so this kind of got shoved to the backburner. sorry about that. but yeah. a lot of potter in this chapter as well ~ being his usual git self though :/.
i think aimee meets james' family in the next chapter, so any thoughts on how that might go?
ellie :) xx
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